With the Sandy Hook school massacre fresh in public memory and last weekend’s spike in gun violence in Chicago, Republicans are maintaining, in effect, a 20-year federal funding ban on gun violence research. Research on the issue according to a statement obtained by ProPublica from Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) is, “propaganda for [Obama’s] gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC [and] will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill.” Kingston had previously expressed a willingness to “let data lead rather than our political opinions”—but that was soon after Sandy Hook.
Pres. Obama had proposed $10 million for the CDC to research gun violence.
For helpful backstory on the gun violence research “ban”: In 1993 a single study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that keeping a gun in the home was strongly associated with an increased risk of homicide. Following intense media attention, the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded to the study by campaigning for the elimination of the center that funded the research. The center survived. Federally funded research on gun violence did not.
In response to Kingston’s stance, MSNBC’s Steve Benen says that he likes to think that knowledge in and of itself has a certain intrinsic value and asks, “What does it say about the NRA and its congressional allies when they insist that ignorance is key to their larger ambitions?”
What does this particular embrace of ignorance say about our society?